Arlington Road

by KE Monahan Huntley

It is quite fitting that Angelo Badalamenti's eerie music creates the mood for screenwriter Ehren Kruger and director Mark Pellington's Arlington Road -- yet another take on the terrors that underlie white-washed suburbia. Badalamenti composed the languidly uneasy scores for Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, films in which pristine Americana towns are anything but.

The opening and closing scenes are riveting. Driving through the mist, main character Michael Faraday almost runs over a kid stumbling in the road-dripping blood (story driver-action). Michael rushes him to the emergency room (mc approach-do-er). The boy belongs to Oliver (influence character), the new neighbor across the street (relationship story-universe). Oliver is a model member of society with one slight exception -- his belief in militant extremism (ic domain-psychology).

Michael, a professor of American History with a passion for examining "violent political theater," is not immediately aware of this, but it is not long before in true Rear Window fashion that he becomes suspicious. Michael is primed to investigate. His FBI-agent wife was recently killed during a bungled stakeout of a backwoods right-wing group (objective story goal-memory). The case file with unanswered questions-closed.

The film's final moments focus on Michael-now certain of Oliver's domestic terrorist activities-desperately attempting to save his own son (and the targeted FBI building).

Arlington Road is a refreshing example of a modern tragedy (outcome-failure; judgment-bad). It does not, however, contain a Dramatica grand argument storyform, as neither the main character nor influence character change (resolve). The perceptions characters in the objective story have about Michael and Oliver change over the course of the story, but the explosive ending informs the audience both subjective characters have clearly remained steadfast to their essential nature -- good battling evil and evil the victor.

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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